Swiss research system
The Swiss research system strongly adheres to the principles of autonomy, academic freedom and scientific excellence. The strong scientific culture and quality of Swiss research can be seen in the different university rankings, where Swiss universities appear among the leading world institutions. This is also clearly visible in the high impact publications of researchers at Swiss institutions that are above average, especially in natural sciences, life sciences and engineering. A strength of the Swiss research system is the high internalisation of its academic workforce with 57% of its research population coming from abroad. With more than a third of Swiss researchers abroad, Switzerland can also be seen as a platform for the circulation of researchers.
The main research funding body in Switzerland is the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). With a yearly budget of above CHF 700 millions, its funding policy mostly focuses on curiosity-driven research and the promotion of young academics. Thematic National Research Programmes amount no more than 24% of SNSF’s annual spending. The SNSF is well integrated in the European Research Area by its participation in numerous Joint Programming Initiatives (JPI) and ERANETs. Research in Switzerland is mostly carried out within the ten cantonal universities, the two federal institutes of technology - the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich) and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) - as well in separate research institutes.
In the past Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7), Swiss participation has been strongest in the curiosity-driven instruments such as the European Research Council (ERC) and Marie Curie Actions. The thematic areas of research with above than average Swiss participation are Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), life sciences and nano-technologies. So far, Switzerland is the 7th most successful country in FP7 in terms of total funding received, with 4.3% of the total. As a consequence, the share of European funding in the budget of research institutions has steadily increased.
Advice and support to participation in European research and innovation programmes is carried out by SwissCore's partner Euresearch, which is a network linking a Head Office hosting the National Contact Points (NCP) with ten Regional Support offices at local universities.
The Swiss Confederation in 2012 expressed its wish to get associated to the European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (Horizon 2020) from 2014 to 2020. On the Swiss side, the dispatch for EU research and innovation has been passed in both chambers of the Parliament (setting aside about € 4 billion). Following the ratification of the protocol extending the free movement of persons to Croatia by the Swiss Federal Council on 16 December 2016, Switzerland is fully associated to Horizon 2020. This means that Swiss institutions and researchers can participate in all parts of Horizon 2020, under the same conditions as EU Member States and other Associated Countries.